AndyO Blog

Monday, October 05, 2020

Trump returns to White House

 After three days at Walter Reed hospital, and infusions of experimental drug therapies, Trump returned to the White House. After landing in Marine One, and ascending the stairs to the balcony, he triumphantly removed his mask. It was as if to say, “I told you so! COVID isn’t so bad.” 

He even said as much, tweeting that people shouldn’t be afraid of the virus.

It’s odd to see someone with such high risk factors declaring victory so soon. All it shows is Trump has learned nothing. It’s better to appear tough, instead of smart. It’s better to produce political theater than actually govern.

What happens next is anyone’s guess.

posted by AndyO @ 10:49 PM   0 comments

Saturday, October 03, 2020

Presidential COVID watch

As is always the case with Team Trump, confusion was the order of the day regarding the president’s condition.

Doctors at Walter Reed couldn’t give straight answers about whether Trump’s been on supplemental oxygen since he was diagnosed. They gave a timeline for the virus that didn’t match what we knew (72 hours vs. 48 hours). Trump’s chief of staff gave a more truthful briefing, confirming the president’s vitals were a concern on Saturday and were the reason he was transferred to Walter Reed. 

And Trump keeps posting videos of himself working—to prove that he’s okay. 

Meanwhile, more of the Republican leadership and Trump’s circle have tested positive for COVID-19. This is a group who has mostly ignored the medical recommendations for months, and now they’re facing a harsh reality. Trump has always lived in a manufactured reality, where truth is what he says it is, and he can do what he wants. For example: He had the biggest inauguration crowd; he’s done more than any administration in the history of the United States; coronavirus isn’t much worse than the flu.

It’s not just that Trump is sick. It’s also that the uncertainty creates a national security risk, especially given that (from what I've read) he hasn't kept many of the processes in place to prepare for a contingency like this. If he and Mike Pence are both incapacitated, Nancy Pelosi would need to have the right info to make quick decisions. Or would others step in and say they're in charge Remember that the president is the one who gives the order to launch nuclear weapons—so there’s not a lot of room for error.

If there’s one thing I do know, Trump will never admit to needing to give responsibility to anyone else. In his world, the illusion of invincibility must be maintained at all costs (which I do understand to some degree). Remember a year ago, he made an emergency visit to Walter Reed—though this is still being sold as a routine visit. What happens if he needs to go on a ventilator? Will we hear about it? Is that when China, Russia, North Korea, or some other country will take advantage of the chaos?

posted by AndyO @ 11:42 PM   0 comments

Friday, October 02, 2020

Pandemic 2020: A reckoning

With only one month before the presidential election, and a few days after the first awful presidential debate, Trump has tested positive for COVID-19. Most of the world learned the news Thursday night, and by late Friday the president was transported to Walter Reed hospital. He walked to Marine One, everyone around him wearing masks. It was reported he was fatigued but his spirits were high.

I sincerely hope that Trump, the First Lady, and all the others infected get better soon. But I have to say, I had always expected this to happen at some point. Not wearing a mask increases the risk of spreading the virus. Trump made this a central issue in his culture war with COVID-19, rarely wearing a mask. He mocked others for doing so, including Joe Biden at the debate.

One gets the sense that everyone in Trump World felt a certain invincibility with this virus. The rules of the universe didn’t apply. 

Except they do.

I can’t think of a worse situation for a presidential candidate than to get sick like this right before an election—especially one who proclaiming the pandemic was over. I think what’s really sad is how Trump has changed the way we’d look at events like this. I’ve caught myself wondering if this isn’t some plan to garner sympathy—like the candidate in the film Bob Roberts. Or if the president’s condition is much worse than they’ve saying—because it will make him look weak. These are things we shouldn’t have to wonder about.

I only hope that those who didn’t take the virus seriously are doing so now.

posted by AndyO @ 11:14 PM   0 comments

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Seattle air quality apocalypse

In the past few weeks, due to unprecedented wildfire smoke, Washington state (along with California and Oregon) has been treated to some of the worst air quality in the world. Sure, we've had our share of summers where smoke hovered around for a few days, but I'd never seen anything like this. 

Starting around September 7, air quality in Seattle was so bad, we were warned not to go outside. Using the "PM 2.5 Air Quality Index" (AQI), we were in the 150 range (PM 2.5 are fine particles that cause issues for people with respiratory issues -- as well as those who are healthy). All I know is we got close to 200 AQI at one point. 

In addition to being told not to go outside, we weren't supposed to open our windows either. This became more difficult when the temp went up into the 80s. On some nights or mornings, we opened doors and windows anyway.

Around the time the air quality was becoming so awful, I remembered that our new furnace had an  iWave air purifier. I didn't think much about it at the time, but I decided to run the circulation in the house to see if it helped (like most people in Seattle, we don't have air conditioning). Once I turned on the air, I didn't smell any smoke in the house. I guess it uses ionization, which breaks down the pollutants. I was just glad we "chose wisely" by having this installed. 

We got some relief starting on Saturday, 9/19, with the air quality going back to normal. I realized that I hadn't taken any photos of the hellish vision. This is what it looked like:


As bad as it was, places like Portland and Bend in Oregon were seeing air quality in the 400 range. I honestly don't know how people were breathing when it was this bad. 

I know things can always get worse, but 2020 has turned out to be "one for the books" as they say. The pandemic would have been enough for most years, but every day there's some new thing going on that hasn't happened before. As I write this, Tropical Storm Beta is bearing down on the Gulf Coast. This is the 23rd storm named to date in 2020, which is a record. 

posted by AndyO @ 7:35 PM   0 comments

Monday, July 20, 2020

Pandemic 2020: Right back where we started

I can’t believe it’s been 2 months since I wrote anything in this blog. And, unfortunately, things haven’t really changed. I still have a broken dishwasher. I’m still working from home. We’re still ordering takeout. And the coronavirus is still devastating the United States. Other countries, they’re doing better, but the richest country in the world can’t be bothered to take the necessary steps to reduce the risk.

While there’s a lot of blame to go around, the majority of it belongs to Donald Trump. He has done nothing to provide the federal leadership required during a crisis of this magnitude. Instead, he and his shameless band of enablers have started culture wars about whether it’s important to or wear a mask, when to reopen states, and the importance of testing. All of this has helped to extend the first wave of this virus. 

And that’s the part that sucks. We’ve been cooped up in our houses for going on five months. We’ve rarely seen our families or friends in person. And now we’re right back where we started—all because the president’s malignant narcissism prevents him from understanding others might know more than he does, or that he needs to think longer term than tomorrow.

For those who think this is all a conspiracy, tell that to the families of the 130,000 people who have died. Tell that to the future Americans who will die because of all this stupidity and disregard for basic science. This isn’t the Dark Ages. We know how viruses make people sick, even if we don’t yet have a cure. And getting that cure will take time, because that’s what needs to happen if we want it to work safely for most people. Magical thinking won’t make this go away. Amplifying some new distraction won’t make it go away.

We need to return to a shared, fact-based reality if we want this crisis to be over sooner than later. Understand that with this virus, you won’t necessarily show symptoms, which means you could be spreading it without even knowing it. So, when you go out in public, practice social distancing and wear a mask.
posted by AndyO @ 1:49 AM   0 comments